Manufacturers and design teams are using Markforged’s Mark Two 3D printer for composite 3D printing, allowing them to lower their production and prototyping costs and shorten lead times.

Why Use Composite 3D Printing?

Carbon fiber reinforced plastics aren’t a new concept, but traditional manufacturing methods often required hand layups and autoclaving or vacuum molding to achieve the required results — processes that made parts expensive and required operators with a different and more advanced set of skills than other materials and methods require.

Composite materials can be 5x stronger than steel, 20x stiffer, and 30% lighter.

3d composite printing - mark two - material strengthNow, incorporating continuous filaments into the 3D printing process adds the strength of composite materials to the simplicity of 3D printing. Composite materials can be up to five times stronger than steel, twenty times stiffer, and up to 30 percent lighter. These characteristics make composite fiber materials ideal for aeronautics, automotive, tooling, fixtures, robotics and other applications in which components are subjected to stress or adverse conditions.

Continuous Filament Materials Compared to Chopped Fibers

Composite materials can be made with either chopped (discontinuous) or continuous filaments. While both methods add strength and stiffness, the use of continuous filaments substantially increases strength and stiffness over chopped fibers.

Chopped fibers create strength because the small fiber lengths lie in varying directions, spreading stress across the part. Using continuous fiber in composite 3D printing can achieve the same stress characteristics by laying successive layers at different angles. This composite 3D printing technique provides the superior strength of continuous fibers with the stress absorption characteristics of chopped fibers.

What If Not All My Parts Require Composites?

The Markforged Mark Two has multiple print heads to enable flexibility in 3D printed parts. One head manages the composite material, which can be carbon fiber, fiberglass or Kevlar. The other print head prints using nylon or Onyx, providing ultimate flexibility.

The Mark Two can print using Onyx, Kevlar, Fiberglass, and Carbon Fiber.

Other Mark Two Features

Fit and Finish

The Mark Two provides a smooth surface finish with a resolution of 100 microns, so most parts can go right from printer to finished product with no intermediate finishing or polishing operations. The Mark Two’s snap-in print bed can be removed to add components, and then snaps back into position within a 10-micron tolerance. This capability often actually eliminates the need for post-printing assembly or machining, helping to reduce costs over traditionally manufactured parts even further.

Prints from the Mark Two have a beautiful 100-micron resolution finish, so they can be used right off the printer.

Eiger Software

3d composite printing - mark two - printerThe Mark Two comes with access to Markforged’s proprietary cloud-based Eiger 3D printing software. Eiger runs in any browser, and it imports drawings directly from most modern CAD systems. Once the drawing has been loaded, Eiger analyzes the part to determine the best reinforcement points. By quickly pinpointing the best fiber routing and slicing for the part, Eiger eliminates hours of tedious calculations by the engineering staff and ensures optimum fiber placement for strength and flexibility. The engineer has the option to exercise manual control over the print pattern, but most find they can’t beat Eiger’s optimized analysis.

Eiger also provides capabilities for managing multiple networked printers or printer farms, creating the ability to manage printing and printers in a single easy-to-use web-based platform.

Additional Composite 3D Printing Advantages

The Markforged Mark Two can lay down composite fiber is extremely small volumes, allowing for very tight tolerances and stronger and lighter parts than with competing 3D composite printing competitors. It is 40 percent faster than previous models. Its flexibility, speed and tolerances make the Mark Two an ideal choice for most 3D composite printing applications.

The Mark Two can print parts 40% faster than earlier Markforged printer models.

The Mark Two 3D printer comes equipped with a touchscreen user interface that makes it easy to operate and control. It connects to WiFi and makes it easy to start and stop printing from the screen or from the Eiger control panel.

Who Uses the Markforged Mark Two for Composite 3D Printing?

Shift Koncepts produces high-end paddle shifters for the automotive racing aftermarket. This company chose the Mark Two because of the strength and stiffness of the composite 3D printed parts and the excellent finish on the end products.

Dixon Valve and Coupling uses 3D composite printing on the Mark Two to print custom robotic arms for use on its shop floor. The cost of these 3D printed arms is under $10, compared to the nearly $300 the company paid when it outsourced production to a nearby CNC machining service company. In addition, the lead time went from three days plus shipping time to about 9.3 hours.

Arrow uses the Mark Two to generate prototypes for rubber extrusions used in coaches and buses. The cost of prototyping in rubber is prohibitive, and regular machined aluminum couldn’t stand up to the testing necessary to ensure the production parts would stand up to the stresses of use in the real world. Arrow went with 3D composite printing of prototypes on the Mark Two, and the company also uses it to create jigs used in production. That process went from a cost of $400 and two and a half weeks of lead time to as little as a day and a few dollars.

About NxRev

NxRev is an engineering enablement company that specializes in sales, support, and consulting services for high-level engineering design firms. As the largest PTC partner on the west coast, we sell the entire suite of PTC software, as well as complementary solutions including FloEFD.

We are also a proud partner of Markforged and sell and service their entire line of 3D printers.

Need other 3D printing features? We offer the entire line of Markforged printers, so let us know what features you are looking for and we can steer you in the right direction.

At NxRev, we can answer your questions and provide examples and use cases to help you understand if 3D composite printing is right for your application. For more information about the Markforged Mark Two for composite 3D printing, contact NxRev today.